Central Park Conservatory Garden, September

01img_0201_edited-1The photographs were taken at the Central Park Conservatory Garden September 20, 2016.

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Listening List

Robert Schumann, Kreisleriana, Op. 16 (1838)

Louise Fishman‘s stunning painting, Kreisleriana (2015), re-introduced me to Schumann’s composition, and I listen to it often. Painter Rebecca Allen wrote of Fishman’s Kreisleriana and her work as a whole:

Kreisleriana, (2015), divides the canvas into vertical bands of fiery yellows, reds, and blues that suggest the emotional contrasts of Robert Schumann’s work for solo piano. Because music is the most abstract art form, paintings in response to it can often be lame (illustrative) equivalents. That doesn’t happen here.

I see Fishman’s paintings in this domain as a reflection of her deep intellect and nuanced understanding of spatial and rhythmic structure. They are influenced by the focus and attention of a deep listener, but they are independent objects. At the top of her game, Louise Fishman translates aural, physical, and visual experiences into radiant and muscular works of art whose tension is maintained by the grid that anchors her fierce gesture. Her hard-won joie de vivre, born of new travels, immersion in music, and a contented relationship, underscore this substantive, if belated retrospective. [citation]

From program notes on Schumann’s work:

To understand the origins of this Romantic masterpiece by Robert Schumann, one must start with E.T.A. Hoffmann (1776-1822) the German writer, painter, critique, composer and caricaturist who studied law, the sciences, arts and music at the University of Konigsberg and became one of the first creators of short fantasy and horror stories. To say that he had an unsettled life would be an understatement, yet the influence of his writings on art, music and even psychology was far-reaching. . . .

It has been argued with much justification that Hoffmann and Schumann were kindred spirits, that Hoffmann inspired Schumann. . . .  in Hoffmann’s “Kreisleriana” a mad musician, the Kapellmeister Kreisler appears. Kreisler is depicted as a dashing, crazed figure of a genius musician whose personality is so hypersensitive that he is constantly drawn between his visions, dreams and reality, searching for his special heaven that might grant him the peace and serenity for the creation of his music. A better description of Schumann’s personality would be hard to find, although because of the age difference, Schumann could not have been the model for Kreisler. [citation]


Credits: The sources for the quotations are as indicated in the post. The photographs, as always on the blog unless otherwise indicated, are mine.


Innisfree Garden, Early September

September 2, 2016

September 2, 2016

The photographs were taken at Innisfree Garden September 2 and September 11, 2016.

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Listening List

Benjamin Britten’s War Requiem, Op. 66 (1961)

Michael Steinberg wrote

The War Requiem . . . was tied to a pair of events—the destruction of Coventry Cathedral in an air raid during the night of November 14‑15, 1940 and its reconsecration more than twenty‑one years later—that were heavily freighted with history and emotion. Its first performance was planned as an international event with respect both to participants and audience. Most important, the War Requiem was a weighty and poignant statement on a subject of piercingly urgent concern to much of humankind. For 1961 was the year of the Bay of Pigs and of the construction of the Berlin Wall; both that year and in 1962, United States involvement in Vietnam increased frighteningly. [citation]

The text for the War Requiem is the Latin Mass for the Dead, interspersed with nine poems by WWI poet Wilfred Owen. The complete text may be found here.

. . . Owen composed nearly all of his poems in slightly over a year, from August 1917 to September 1918. In November 1918 he was killed in action at the age of twenty-five, one week before the Armistice. Only five poems were published in his lifetime . . . [citation]

The War Requiem is in six movements:

  • Requiem aeternam (Eternal Rest)
  • Dies irae (Day of wrath)
  • Offertorium (Bringing offerings)
  • Sanctus (Holy)
  • Agnus Dei (Lamb of God)
  • Libera me (Deliver me)

The work calls for large forces, about which Michael Steinberg wrote:

The basic division of the performers is into two groups, reflecting the dual source of the words, which stand in a relation of text (the Latin Missa pro defunctis) and commentary (the nine Owen poems). The Latin text is the province essentially of the large mixed chorus, but from this there is spillover in two opposite directions, the solo soprano representing a heightening of the choral singing at its most emotional, the boys’ choir representing liturgy at its most distanced. The mixed chorus and solo soprano are accompanied by the full orchestra; the boys’ choir, whose sound should be distant, by an organ. All this constitutes one group. The other consists of the tenor and baritone soloists, whose province is the series of Owen songs and who are accompanied by the chamber orchestra. [citation]

Steinberg’s program notes for the War Requiem may be found here.

Further general information on the War Requiem may be found at Listening to Britten hereAdditional materials, including the complete text and an analysis of each section may be found here. A thorough talk on the “Story Behind the Music” may be found hereUseful video materials, including thoughts and responses from student performers, may be found hereThe Britten/Pears Foundation offers audio-visual materials about the War Requiem here.

Performers in both the Spotify and YouTube recordings:

  • Benjamin Britten: Composer (and conductor), London Symphony Orchestra
  • Melos Ensemble, London Symphony Orchestra Chorus, Highgate School Choir, The Bach Choir
  • Galina Vishnevskaya: Soprano, Sir Peter Pears: Tenor, Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau: Bass, Simon Preston: Organ

Spotify recording is here.


Credits: The sources for the quotations are as indicated in the post. The photographs, as always on the blog unless otherwise indicated, are mine.


September 11, 2016

A Photo Post of Kingston, New York

Old Dutch Church

Old Dutch Church

It’s axiomatic that, when visitors come, we find out more about where we live than on our own. Our few visits to Kingston, New York, have always been in the company of visitors, and of course the Hudson River boat trip is de rigueur. This time, though, we stayed on land and visited the Stockade National Historic District and the Hudson River Maritime Museum. Continue reading